Improving recognition of heart failure in elderly patients


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An Ipswich Hospital doctor is leading a Palaszczuk Government-funded lung ultrasound trial that could revolutionise the way heart failure is diagnosed in elderly patients who attend emergency departments with shortness of breath.

Dr Kylie Baker today showed Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick, Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard and Member for Ipswich West Jim Madden how less-invasive lung ultrasounds could be used instead of the more traditional chest x-ray to diagnose and treat elderly people.

The Minister said the ‘Improving recognition of heart failure using lung ultrasound’ research, funded by Queensland Health through the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF), was in its final stages, with results being analysed and prepared for publication.

“Lung ultrasounds can diagnose heart failure within minutes of a patient arriving at hospital,” Mr Dick said.

“It is a quick, simple, accurate, cheap and less-invasive procedure that can save time, money and lives.”

Ms Howard said the trial was so important for older people in the community because shortness of breath could be a symptom of heart failure or chronic lung disease.

“Unfortunately, elderly patients can sometimes be diagnosed incorrectly with either lung disease thought to be heart failure or the other way around,” Ms Madden said.

Mr Madden said doctors usually needed several tests to diagnose heart failure, including blood tests, electrocardiograph and chest x-ray.

“However, lung ultrasounds can diagnose heart failure within minutes of a patient arriving at hospital,” Mr Madden said.

Dr Baker said this research taught us to do something better, cheaper and safer than we do currently and that’s important in the health industry.

“This trial is a great way to expose many doctors to this idea, as even emergency doctors inexperienced in the technique can make an accurate diagnosis of lung disease versus heart failure within three minutes,” she said.

“Consequently, elderly patients are started on the right treatments straight away and aren’t at risk of adverse events because of incorrect diagnosis and incorrect treatments.

“In fact, right now I am teaching junior doctors at Ipswich Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital and The Princess Alexandra Hospital how to use lung ultrasound to diagnose heart failure.”

The clinical trial was run at Ipswich Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital, and The Princess Alexandra Hospital, with 400 patients recruited.

The four-year $200,000 study comes off the back of a pilot study also funded by Queensland Health through EMF, which proved to be a success.

“Based on the outcomes of the pilot project, Australian emergency departments are rapidly adopting lung ultrasound to initially diagnose elderly patients with shortness of breath,” Mr Dick said.

“The procedure is flexible that it can be used wherever a portable, battery operated ultrasound machine can be carried.

“The results are proving that this research is as much a benefit for rural, remote and pre-hospital services as it is for metro, regional and tertiary hospitals.”

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Cameron Dick

Community Health & Wellness Law & Safety Queensland Government

Queensland Health : Queensland Government :
Queensland Health Building, 147-163 Charlotte Street, Brisbane Queensland 4000, Queensland Wide
13 43 25 84
Queensland Health : Queensland Government
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